German carmaker BMW on Thursday announced that Norbert Reithofer is to become the company's new chief executive officer. The move is part of a major shakeup of the BMW's management.
A new boss will sit behind the wheel of BMW come September
The 50-year-old Reithofer, who is currently the management board member responsible for production, is to take over from current chief executive Helmut Panke on Sept. 1, the company said in a statement. The announcement followed a meeting of the carmaker's board and comes in the wake of weeks of speculation about possible changes in the group's upper management.
The new head of BMW
"With this decision the supervisory board has determined the course of the company's long-term management," said board chairman Joachim Milberg.
With BMW's flexible production system considered to be a model for the car industry, Reithofer has long been considered to be a candidate to replace Panke, who has presided over record earnings at the Munich-based group. BMW expects profits before tax to rise this year by 3.3 per cent to a record four billion euros ($5.05 billion).
Panke hits BMW retirement age
Is Panke too old to lead BMW?
The German press has been speculating that Panke's contract was unlikely to be renewed when it runs out early next year because the company's policy is for managers to retire at 60. Panke, who turns 60 in August, had hoped that his contract would be extended.
"I enjoy being captain," he said last week.
However, senior BMW executives are understood to have signaled to Panke some time ago that it was unlikely that his contract would be extended.
As part of the management restructuring, the company's research and development chief Burkhard Göschel, who is 60, is to bow out from his present post. Göschel is to be replaced by Klaus Draeger, who heads BMW's limousine division.
Reithofer's current job is to go to Frank-Peter Arndt, who currently heads BMW's plant in the Bavarian town of Dingolfing..